Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata)

Plantae>Magnoliophyta>Magnoliopsida>Ericales>Clethraceae>Clethra acuminata Michaux

Other names: Mountain White-alder, Cinnamonbark Clethra
Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata)

This large shrub is common in the understory of rich woods in the Mountains of North Carolina. It is endemic to the southern Appalachians.

Haywood Co., NC 5/10/08.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata)

Similar to the smaller Coastal Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) of the Coastal Plain, but the leaves are longer-pointed (acuminate) and the flowers lack the spicily sweet fragrance of the Coastal Sweet Pepperbush.

Carroll Co., VA 7/14/07.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata)

Carroll Co., VA 7/14/07.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata)

The racemes of white flowers open in mid-late July.

Carroll Co., VA 7/24/05.

Remnants of infructescences.

Carroll Co., VA 10/16/06.

The broad leaves are large, about the size of your hand.

Carroll Co., VA 10/16/06.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

The reddish bark peels off in thin sheets, which gives it another common name, Cinnamonbark Clethra.

Carroll Co., VA 7/24/05.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

Carroll Co., VA 10/16/06.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

Some more photos of the cinnamon-colored, peeling bark of some large specimens, just because it is so beautiful.

Carroll Co., VA 4/11/10.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

Carroll Co., VA 4/11/10.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

Carroll Co., VA 4/11/10.

Mountain Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra acuminata) bark

Carroll Co., VA 4/11/10.

More information:
NC State
Tree Trail

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All photographs and text ©2011 by Will Cook unless otherwise indicated.